The Slippery Slope
by Noel Goddard
Original Pub. Date: February 1997
Summary: Sam and Al go hiking after Sam returns home.
I stood on our porch watching the spectacular sunrise and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air. "Amazing," I thought to myself.
A gruff voice cut through the morning air answering my unspoken thought, "Yes, it is."
I turned to find Al, in his boxer shorts and rumpled bathrobe, standing the doorway to the cabin. In the fresh sunlight, he looked a good fifteen years younger, much like he had looked when we met all those years ago at Project Starbright. I shook myself from my thoughts and asked Al suspiciously, "It is what?"
Al's eyes twinkled back at me, "It, the sunrise, is amazing. That is what you were thinking wasn't it?"
I chuckled and shook my head. After all these years and especially the last seven years of leaping, Al knew me better than anyone else. In fact, he probably knew me better than I knew myself sometimes.
Al grinned widely and answered my thoughts again, "Yep, Sammy, for the last seven years, I knew you better than you knew yourself." Al wandered further out onto the porch to gaze at nature's splendor.
It was still hard to believe that I was finally home. It had been an amazing three weeks. Exactly three weeks ago, I leaped home seven years to the date after I first leaped. Al greeted me in the waiting room with the biggest hug humanly possible. Once he finished squeezing all the air out of my lungs, he told me that Sammy Jo had finally figured out the glitch in the retrieval program. Both Al and I were incredibly proud of my daughter being the one to solve the final mystery of time travel. Al was already predicting that the Beckett (and Fuller) family would sweep the Nobels next year.
I spent the next week being put through every physical and psychological test imaginable, all at the hands of a very happy, but determined Dr. Beeks. Once she gave me a clean bill of health, it was off to Washington to appear before the Senate Subcommittee and meet with the President. The end result was that Project Quantum Leap would be closed as soon as all the data was compiled and analyzed, probably in about a year. After that time, all project personnel, including Ziggy, would begin work on Project Millennium. It would be a project to investigate renewable energy sources for the new century, in particular nuclear fusion. Adapting the quantum accelerator ring into a particle accelerator for fusion should be a feasible project and one that we were all eager to start. However, Verbena stepped in and ordered Al and I out of the project. She even had our security clearances revoked for a month. She told Al and I to get the hell out of New Mexico and see what was out there in the world after spending seven years hostage to the whims of Fate.
After those seven years of being lost in time, I was having trouble believing that I was finally home. I was finally Sam Beckett again, and I was here to stay. I was standing on the porch of a mountain cabin near Estes Park, CO, with my best friend in the world, someone who had been at my side without fail for the last seven years. I sighed audibly and smiled because for the first time in a very long time, everything was right with the world.
Al turned as I sighed, still smiling, and asked, "So, Sammy, what are you up for doing today?"
I shrugged my shoulders, "I don't know Al. It's been a long, long time since I had a vacation. What do people usually do on vacations?"
Al laughed out loud, "Well, we already messed that up by watching this sunrise!" Seeing my confused look, he explained, "Usually people sleep in late, Sammy."
I grinned sheepishly and then answered back impishly, "Well, you can the boy away from the farm, but you can't take the farm out of the boy."
Once Al finished laughing, he made a more productive suggestion, "Why don't we head over to Rocky Mountain National Park and do some hiking? I hear that the scenery over there is truly spectacular."
I looked at Al warily and asked, "Isn't it sort of late in the year to be hiking in the mountains? It is November after all, Al."
Al grinned that devil-may-care grin, "C'mon kid. Where's your sense of adventure? Since you're already dressed, why don't you put our packs together with some food, water, and the cell phone, just to be safe, and I'll go shower and get dressed." Assuming everything was settled, Al turned and walked back into the cabin.
I still wasn't convinced that this was such a good idea, but I trusted Al implicitly. So, I went inside to put together our packs.
After only half an hour, Al and I were on the road in my Jeep. We drove out of Estes Park and into the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park. Once were inside the park, the mountains seemed to just surround the road. The closest mountains were covered with pine trees and intricate rocky facings, while the ones off in the distance were more craggy and covered with a light dusting of fall snow. I turned to face Al as he drove up the two-lane mountain road, "So, Al, where are we headed?"
Al spoke loudly over the wind rushing through the open Jeep, "I thought we would go park by Bear Lake and hike up to Emerald Lake. According to the tour book, it's a fairly easy hike that goes by three mountain lakes. What do you think?"
I nodded, "Sounds good, Al."
We drove in silence the rest of the way to lake. The silence wasn't an uncomfortable one since both of us seemed to be lost in our surroundings. It took us about twenty minutes to drive to the Bear Lake parking lot and the trailhead. I got out of the Jeep and stared. Gaped might be a better word. I turned to Al, "It's covered with snow up here Al!"
Al looked at me with a confused look, "Of course, there's snow up here kid. We're at nearly 10,000 feet. What's the problem?"
I shifted nervously from one foot to the other, "Al, the sign says 'Warning: Icy Trail'. I'm not so sure that this is a good idea."
Al let out an exasperated sound, "Sam, the trail guide says that this is a very easy trail with not much elevation. I know you don't like heights that much, but after all the things you've done in the last seven years, are you telling me that you're going to let a little snow stop you from seeing some of the most amazing land in this whole country?"
Still a little nervous, I shook my head silently and swallowed hard.
Al said, "Good. Then lets get going!"
The trail up to the first two lakes wasn't too bad. It was somewhat slick at points, and I was glad to have my brand-new hiking boots. Al had given them to me before we left New Mexico for our vacation. I remember him telling me about all hikes that we would take together now that both of us were completely free of other responsibilities.
After taking a short break for snacks and water at the second lake, Dream Lake, we headed up the trail towards our final destination, Emerald Lake. The trail was becoming more steep, and the side of the mountain cut away sharply from the trail on the left side. Shortly into that leg of the hike, I stopped admiring the scenery and started focusing on the path before me. It was getting more slick and frozen as we rose in altitude.
Suddenly, my right foot slipped out from underneath me, and I landed hard on one knee. As I fell, I called out Al's name...loudly. Al turned on the path ahead of me and hurried back to where I had landed, "Sam, are you okay?"
I was frozen in one place, unable to move. My left knee, the one that I had landed on, was planted maybe six inches from the edge of the trail and the edge of the mountain. My eyes were focused on the steep drop away from the trail. It was covered with deep snow and evergreen trees growing in the side of the mountains. My fear of heights had come rushing back with paralyzing force. I couldn't move or think except to picture myself hurtling to my death down the face of the mountain.
Al had gripped my shoulders and was shaking me hard. "Sam, are you okay? Speak to me Sam!"
Slowly, with effort, I turned my eyes to Al and spoke haltingly, "The mountain side.... I nearly fell..."
Realization dawned in Al's eyes, "Aw, Jeez, kid. I guess I thought you had mostly gotten over your fear of heights after that circus leap. I'm so sorry."
I grinned weakly at Al and said simply, "Guess not."
Al forcibly pulled me to my feet. I was still planted in one spot on the trail. Al spoke with a commanding tone, "C'mon kid. Let's get to the lake and rest a while."
I looked at Al horrified, "Al, we can't keep going!"
Al hardened his gaze, knowing that I was beyond reasoning with, "Sam, we are a good mile and a half from the trailhead and only a quarter of a mile from the lake. We are going forward."
I began to shake violently, "Al, I can't. I can't do it."
Al started to pull me forward by my arm and gave the order, "We're going forward, Sam."
It took us a good fifteen minutes to make it the rest of the way with Al pulling me along behind him. We each slipped a few other places on the trail, but neither of us fell again. I wasn't comforted by that fact though. However, I was moving from being petrified to being furious with Al for bringing me on this hike.
Once we reached the lake, I collapsed on the bench and started to cry. They were tears of exhaustion from being so frightened and tears of frustration for having let my fears control me so completely. They were also tears of anger at Al for having dragged me up the side of that God-forsaken mountain.
Hearing my sobs, Al came over and sat down on the bench beside me. "Sam, I'm sorry, so sorry. I really thought that you could make it up this trail. I never would have made you go up that icy trail if I realized that you were still so afraid of heights." He reached out and pulled me in close to him.
Instinctively, I snuggled in against the warmth of his coat. I still couldn't get over how amazing it was to be physically touched by Al. After all those years of not being able to share even the slightest touch, I reveled in feeling his hands on me.
We sat like that next to lake for several minutes in silence. Slowly, my tears stopped as I began to feel safe and calm again. I lifted my head to see Al staring down at me with the strangest look in his eyes. Before I knew it, I was kissing Al full on lips. I don't know which one of us started it, but neither of us could seem to stop. Our tongues probed each other's mouths hungrily. I could feel my own passion heating up in my groin. That was what finally drove me to pull away. I realized that I was kissing my best friend and getting really turned on all at the same time. It was way too much to handle right now, right here.
I stood up clumsily and walked to the edge of the lake. I looked out at the area that we had worked so hard to reach. I gasped audibly as I looked out over the mountain lake. The lake surface was mostly frozen white with a few patches of water peeking through here and there. The lakeshore was surrounded by evergreen trees as far as the eye could see. Rising up from behind those trees were majestic snow-capped mountains. In all my years of leaping, I don't remember ever seeing anything quite so awe-inspiring.
I heard a clicking noise from my left side, and turned in time to see Al snapping pictures of me. He grinned, looking embarrassed and said, "You had the most perfect awe-struck look on your face. I just had to have a picture of it."
We both stared at the scenery and took some more pictures before we turned to head back down the mountain. Neither of us spoke again as we descended the trail in silence.
Al took my hand as we went back through the slippery, steep part of the path. I cast him a grateful look, too embarrassed to admit that the feeling of panic was again rising in my chest. He didn't speak, but just held my hand a little tighter to acknowledge that he understood.
Once we passed through the steep part, I was a little surprised that Al didn't let go of my hand. In fact, he held my hand all the way down the trail. There was an uncomfortable silence between the two of us. I know that my mind was drawn back to the kiss that we had shared at the lake. I couldn't remember ever having any conscious sexual feelings about Al, but that kiss had just seemed so right. Much like it seemed perfectly right to be walking down a mountain trail holding hands with Al.
Once we reached the bottom of the trail and emerged from the woods into the crowd of other tourists, Al let go my hand. We each stopped at the rest area and then headed out to the Jeep.
We drove out of the park and back to the cabin in silence, each of us wrapped in our thoughts about everything that had happened that day.
We pulled into the driveway of the cabin and unloaded our gear into the house. I tossed my pack into the corner and collapsed on the couch in the rustic living room. Meanwhile, Al took his backpack into his bedroom and then returned to get a fire going in the fireplace. Once that was started, he went into the kitchen. We still hadn't spoken. I was beginning to worry that Al was really upset about what had happened. I wasn't sure I understood it, but I was sure that I didn't want to lose his friendship.
I was just about to call out to Al, as he returned to the living room carrying a bottle of wine and two glasses. He sat the glasses on the rough wood coffee table and poured us each a glass of the white zinfandel. He then sat down on the couch- not too close to me, but not exactly on the other end of the couch either.
He spoke first, "Sam, about what happened this afternoon..."
I waited, deciding that I should hear his point of view before I stuck my jumbled emotions into things.
Al cleared his throat and continued, "I, uh, want you to know that I didn't plan for that to happen when I suggested we take our vacation together." Al stared intently at his wine and continued more softly, "I'm not sorry that it happened though."
I was stunned. Al, the world's most heterosexual male was admitting to enjoying kissing a man? I stammered, "You're not? But, Al, I'm a man!"
Al grinned at me shyly, "Yeah, and you're a damn good-looking one too." Seeing my jaw drop even further, he continued, "Sam, I've been with men a few times in my life. You're the one who always said that I would sleep with anything that moved. Well, there were some times in my life when you would have been right. I was never really comfortable with being bi, so I tried my damndest to convince you, me, and anyone who would listen that I was as straight as they come. But, Sam, I don't want to ignore that part of me anymore because well, um, I think I'm in love with you."
My world seemed to spin out of control and fall completely into place within a fraction of a second. The moment Al said those words, I knew that I was wholly and completely in love with him too. "Oh, Al. I love you too."
Al seemed caught off guard by my sudden declaration. "Are you sure Sam? You know, you don't have to say that. I really don't expect anything from you except your friendship, if you'll still have me."
I moved closer to Al on the couch and looked at him seductively, "Al, I mean it. I can't tell you that I've always been into men. I've wondered, even fantasized about, being with another man, but I've never actually done it. But, Al, I want to make love to you, and I want to spend the rest of my life loving you."
Still unbelieving, Al asked once more, "Are you sure Sam?"
I nuzzled as close to Al as I could, "I've never been more sure about anything in my life." Reaching across our bodies, I grabbed Al's hand and pulled it onto my crotch when my cock was already hardening in anticipation of what would come next, "If you have any more doubts, just feel this."
Al's hand began to knead my hard-on through the rough material of my blue jeans. I let my head fall against Al's shoulder and moaned into the skin on his neck. Once he realized that I was straining painfully against the material, Al released my erection, and lifted my head from his shoulder. He pulled me into a passionate kiss that rivaled the one at the lake in intensity.
After a few minutes of passionate deep kissing with our hands wandering over each other's still clothed bodies, Al pulled back from the embrace. He stood up from the couch and began to strip his clothes off one piece at a time. The light from the fireplace cast erotic shadows across his body as it was exposed. Al was in remarkably good shape for a man his age, and the firelight revealed that his body was still well-toned, despite the marks that it bore from Al's hard life. As Al removed the last article of clothing, his boxer shorts, his own erection sprung free, showing that it, like everything else, was much younger than Al's true age. Once he was done with his own striptease, Al pulled me from the couch and positioned me between him and the fire. Then, he began to unbutton my flannel shirt one button at a time, all the while gently kissing my neck. Once he removed my shirt, he began to suck hungrily at my nipples while his hands began unbuttoning my jeans. As he released the last button, my cock sprang free from its prison, and Al burst out in the laughter.
Feeling more than a little offended, I demanded, "What's so damn funny?"
Seeing my hurt, Al tried to calm his laughter. "It's nothing like that Sammy." Taking an appraising look at my cock, he continued, "I think you are definitely very well-hung." With that he began to fondle my cock again with his hand, this time without the annoying material in the way. "It's just that I never pictured you as a man who didn't wear underwear!"
I would have joined Al in his laughter if I hadn't been so swept away in the incredible feelings washing over my body. I managed to gasp out, "I just threw on a pair of pants this morning, so I wouldn't miss the sunrise. I just never got a chance to go back and put them on."
Al pushed my jeans down to my ankles, and I stepped out of them, leaving us both standing there in the nude. I could feel Al's erection throbbing slightly against my thigh and could also feel Al's hand resting, now gently, on my cock. A thought flashed in my head and filled my mind and soul so completely, that I audibly moaned at the prospect.
Al looked at me quizzically, "What's is it kid?"
I looked at Al almost too embarrassed to ask, but my passion made me brave, "Al, do you think we could, um, sixty-nine?"
Al's eyes lit up at the thought and twinkled as he answered, "If you think you can handle all of me, then I'm up for it."
With that I grabbed his cock roughly, as if measuring it for size, and answered, "Yep, I think I can swallow just about all of that."
Al moaned as I stroked him some with my hand roughly, just to make sure he was as turned on as I was. After a few more strokes, I pulled him down to throw rug on the floor in front of the fireplace and settled my mouth in front of his erection. Before I could contemplate the treat in front of me, Al swallowed my whole length. I was nearly swept to orgasm just by that one movement.
With a great deal of effort, I returned my focus to what was in front of me and repeated Al's gesture with a flourish of my own. I swirled my tongue around the tip of Al's cock as I swallowed its length into my mouth. I felt Al shudder through his whole body and pause for a moment in his blow job of me. In moments though, we were both riding wave after wave of passion as we each reveled in what was being done to us and what we each doing to the other. It wasn't long before I felt Al stiffen and then spurt into my mouth. As I sucked and swallowed the fluid that represented the very core of Al's being, I came myself with force into Al's open mouth that was still poised around my cock.
Once we had each licked the other clean, we snuggled into each other's arms in front of the fireplace. Al reached up and planted a chaste kiss on my salty lips. He spoke first, "Did you mean what you said about spending the rest of our lives together?"
I held Al close, "Yes, Al, I meant it with all of my heart."
As Al snuggled into my chest, exhausted from the day's events, he replied sleepily, "I guess I may have to take you hiking more often."
Together, we fell asleep in each other's arms watching the sunset behind the mountains beyond the cabin porch. My last thought before nodding off, "Yes, everything truly is right with the world."